After reading through many options for fermentation control I decided that converting a side by side fridge was probably the best way to go. For the past year I have been using an A/C unit with a Johnson control attached to an insulated chamber...not very efficient and running constantly in the summer to maintain 67 degrees.
So I acquired a side by side fridge and freezer for free from my roommate's parents and started ripping it apart. I've only seen this done once on HBT so it was a very experimental project.
I started by removing the center wall that divides the fridge and freezer. This is the dirty work but overall it was easy. Make sure you don't hit any electrical lines or thermostats.
The rest of the work was done by some friends that are experts at special projects and engineering. They measured out all the shelving and we figured out a system that would give us the most capacity. The wood is drilled very securely and even through the fridge's outside walls.
When we pulled out the front door seal (where the 2 doors meet in the middle) we accidentally cut into a freon line. Luckily my friends are also very knowledgeable with fixing this type of thing and were able to braze and flush the line...then they ran it through the rear of the unit so it wouldn't be in the way.
We drilled a hole in the side to mount the johnson control unit and insert the probe. And to seal the front doors we just added window sealing so when you close the doors at the same time it creates a perfectly tight seal.
It works perfectly! We fired it up today and the Johnson control was reading 26 degrees after just a few minutes. This is going to be super efficient at keeping ales in fermentation temps and getting started with lagering!
Check out the pics below and let me know if you have any questions. The capacity is 4 better bottles on the top shelf, 2 on the bottom, plus a 15 gallon demijon. So all in all the capacity is 40 gallons!
Okay I have a question. I began messing with the center divider and came upon this:
Is that the freon line?
Looks like it to me. You probably want to leave that center divider in anyhow, as it provides a sealing surface for both of the doors where they meet in the middle. Have a look at Boerderij_Kabouter's side by side to see how he did it.
For some frezion reason they have a line running up the front! Don't cut into it. I was lucky that my friends could fix it, otherwise that would be an expensive mistake. Let me know if you have questions, I can ask the experts and get right back to you.